Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Greg Valentine Comes to Atlanta for the Georgia Heavyweight Title Tournament (1981)

by Dick Bourne 
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

On May 17, 1981 at the Omni in Atlanta, there was a one-night tournament for the vacated Georgia Heavyweight Championship. Ten men were entered in the tournament, including a couple of guys advertised as coming in from outside the territory to compete including Bruiser Brody and Greg Valentine.

Brody no-showed (or perhaps was never really going to appear to begin with, who knows) but Valentine came in from the Mid-Atlantic area and went all the way to the finals, defeating Mr. Wrestling II in the quarter finals and Iron Mike Sharpe in the semi-finals before losing to "Wildfire" Tommy Rich in the finals.

Prior to the tournament, Greg Valentine sent in a taped interview from Raleigh to promote his appearance in the tournament. The interview was conducted by Rich Landrum (host of "World Wide Wrestling") in the studios of WRAL TV.

The video below, which is the final seven minutes of the Georgia TV show leading up to that big Omni card, contains the Greg Valentine promo plus another tape from the Mid-Atlantic area featuring the reigning NWA World Tag Team champions Gene and Ole Anderson.

(No idea why the person who posted this clip labeled it from "WGHP-TV High Point Fox 8..." because the clip has nothing to do with any of that.)

  • The match with the Anderson Brothers from WRAL is from the summer of 1981 and is from "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" with Bob Caudle and Lord Alfred Hayes calling the action.  
  • Tommy Rich was wrestling in that tournament with a $10,000 bounty on his head, allegedly placed there by NWA World Champion Harley Race, who was trying to avoid having to face Rich for the NWA title. Greg Valentine mentions being interested in collecting the bounty in his promo, but was apparently unable to do so as Rich defeated him in the tournament finals to win the Georgia title and then went on to challenge Race for the NWA title at the next show at the Omni on 5/31/81. Race would successfully defend against Rich on 5/31, but then lost the NWA world title to Dusty Rhodes on the following Omni show on 6/21/81. 
  • If you look closely, you will see part of the Georgia championship belt extending off the front of Gordon Solie's podium. 
  • In a Studio Wrestling note, the backdrop you see in the Valentine interview (as seen in the image at top) was the Mid-Atlantic set used from 1975-1977 and is my favorite of all the old sets, mainly because it was first one I really remember and was used during the years I first really loved wrestling. 
  • This Georgia Championship Wrestling show featured two other Mid-Atlantic clips not seen in the video above. The first featured a match between Greg Valentine and Steve Muslin from 1980 on "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling." The second was a promotional interview similar to Greg Valentine's with Rich Landrum interviewing "The Dream." (I hope to present those in a future post.)

  • Gordon Solie promoted the tournament as a round-robin tournament, although it was not competed in such a fashion. There were 10 men announced as appearing in the tournament: Dusty Rhodes, Iron Mike Sharpe, Mr. Wrestling II, Tommy Rich, Ray Candy, Bruiser Brody, Greg Valentine, Ken Patera, Mike Boyer, and Bill Irwin. Brody and Boyer diod not appear, but Nickolia Volkoff and Jim Duggan replaced them.
  • From the tournament results posted on The History of the WWE website, it appears that 2 of the 10 (Rhodes and Volkoff) received byes, but I've been unable to figure out the elimination brackets from these results. But they are listed as:
Quarter Finals: Tommy Rich defeated Bill Irwin
Quarter Finals: Ken Patera defeated Ray Candy
Quarter Finals: Greg Valentine defeated Mr. Wrestling #2
Quarter Finals: Iron Mike Sharpe defeated Jim Duggan
Semi Finals: Ken Patera fought Dusty Rhodes to a no contest
Semi Finals: Tommy Rich defeated Nikolai Volkoff
Semi Finals: Greg Valentine defeated Iron Mike Sharpe
Finals: Tommy Rich defeated Greg Valentine to win the title

Originally posted November 2016 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.